Thursday, December 3, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 40

Santa Maria Sun / Spotlight

The following article was posted on April 22nd, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 8 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 8

County Foodbank ramps up services during COVID-19 crisis


As businesses remain closed under the statewide stay-at-home order and the number of people unemployed in California continues to increase, many residents are facing food insecurity for the first time. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County has ramped up its services to provide fresh food to the thousands who may be turning to the organization for help for the first time, Foodbank marketing communications manager Judith Smith-Meyer said.

Find help
You can find a list of emergency food distribution sites the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County has set up during the COVID-19 crisis online at There are more than 50 sites throughout the county, more than 20 of which are drive-through locations.

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County ramped up its services during the COVID-19 pandemic, including now delivering food to seniors with the help of the California National Guard.

“There are a lot of people facing food insecurity for the first time who are not accustomed to receiving food from the Foodbank,” Smith-Meyer said. “Our message is there’s enough for everybody who needs it.”

As of April 16, the Foodbank has set up more than 50 emergency food distribution sites throughout the county where people can stop by to grab a bag full of canned goods, pasta, fresh produce, and other items. More than 20 of these sites are drive-through locations where people can pick up these bags without coming into contact with volunteers passing out the food.

“You give your name, how many people are in your household, and also whether this is your first time getting food this month,” Smith-Meyer said. “That’s all the information. Your need is based on your sense of your need.”

Between March 15 and April 9, nearly 70,000 people visited one of these sites to pick up food. The Foodbank also received assistance from the California National Guard to start delivering bags of food to seniors, who are at a higher risk of developing a serious illness if they contract COVID-19.

To feed more people than normal, the Foodbank needs more food than normal. Between March 9 and April 14, the Foodbank distributed nearly 1.7 million pounds of food, Smith-Meyer said. During the entire year of 2019, the organization delivered 9.8 million pounds of food, which is about 816,000 pounds a month.

At the beginning of this crisis, securing additional food wasn’t an issue, Smith-Meyer said. Producers have an excess amount of fresh produce that normally is sold to restaurants—which have closed or switched to carry-out or delivery—and grocery stores that may not be selling as much in certain products. 

Much of this food has been diverted to food banks throughout the state, including in Santa Barbara County. Smith-Meyer said food donations increased by about 30 percent at the beginning of the pandemic, and although food donations continue to arrive, the Foodbank is also purchasing more food than normal.

She said the organization has spent about $250,000 on food since the beginning of this crisis, which is about three times as much as it normally spends in that amount of time. All of this funding comes from donations and grants, and the Foodbank is trying to increase the amount it receives from both of those revenue streams.

 This increase in funding is necessary to address the long-term effects of the ongoing crisis, Smith-Meyer said. 

 “We’re doing great right now, but even if stay-at-home orders get lifted, it’s going to be gradual and slow,” Smith-Meyer said. “When people experience economic hardship, it doesn’t just end when you get back to work. It takes time to get into the deepest impact, and it takes time to get out of that.”


• The city of Lompoc is requesting community input on how to spend state grant funding to improve Beattie Park. The city has released graphic renderings and videos showing two options for the new playground and fitness equipment. Residents can weigh in on these options through a survey at

• Through a donation from the Mark and Dorothy Smith Foundation, Marian Regional Medical Center is acquiring more than 10 iPads that will allow patients to communicate with family members as hospital visitation remains limited during the COVID-19 crisis. The iPads will also allow hospital staff to connect with and evaluate hospice patients who are not in the medical center. 

Staff Writer Zac Ezzone wrote this week’s Spotlight. Send tips to

Weekly Poll
Would a second stay-at-home order be effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19?

No, pandemic fatigue is too high to get people to follow a stay-at-home order.
Yes, we need it, otherwise our hospitals will be in rough shape.
Local governments should get a say—not all purple tier counties are the same.
It would be bad news for the economy.

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